This article originally appeared in Courage.
At our double feature event in Berlin last night, Courage announced NSA whistleblower William Binney as the newest member of our Advisory Board. Binney is a former Technical Director of the NSA who resigned on 31 October 2001 after 30 years with the agency. Binney then blew the whistle on the NSA’s wasteful, abusive surveillance programme Trailblazer when the NSA chose to use Trailblazer instead of ThinThread, a less expensive alternative programme that Binney helped produce and protected citizens’ privacy.
Since blowing the whistle, Binney has been an outspoken expert on and critic of NSA surveillance. On 3 July 2014, Binney testified to the German Bundestag’s NSA commission, describing the NSA’s indiscriminate surveillance as a totalitarian effort to control populations at large. In 2015, Binney was given the Sam Adams Award for “shining light into the darkest of corners of secret government and corporate power.” At the award ceremony, Edward Snowden said, “Without Bill Binney, there would be no Edward Snowden.”
Binney is supporting several legal challenges to US surveillance. Elliott Schuchardt, a Pittsburgh lawyer, is suing the US government, claiming that the NSA’s broad sweep violates his Fourth Amendment Rights. After several setbacks, Schuchardt learned just this month that the Third Circuit has ruled that he has standing to challenge the NSA.
Joining fellow NSA whistleblowers Thomas A. Drake and J. Kirk Wiebe, Binney provided evidence for the EFF’s lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit, Jewel v. NSA, in which the EFF is suing the NSA on behalf of AT&T customers to end dragnet surveillance.
Binney is also supporting former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson in suing the NSA over mass surveillance of his city during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Binney is the subject of Friedrich Moser’s documentary A Good American, which we screened after Oliver Stone’s SNOWDEN. Stone has called Moser’s film “powerful” and a “prequel” to his movie.
Just today, Binney joined fellow protestors in demonstrating against Germany’s proposed surveillance law to be voted on tomorrow. Binney spoke out against it as the group delivered petitions against the bill.